Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Collecting Seeds


The heat everywhere has been insufferable for over a week now. The conditions in the garden are less than perfect with much of the July rains allowing for abnormal growth followed by the typical August heat. The combination of the two has created leggy yet dry and wilting flowers. The more growth in the garden, the more it requires watering and the quicker it dries out.

Many of the flowers in the garden are seeding now so it is an ideal time to collect seeds for saving and sharing with other gardeners. The importance of collecting ands saving seeds must not be underestimated for many species of plants have been lost over time. Also the seeds of flowers that have acclimated in your garden this year will fare better next for they created a DNA memory of the conditions where they resided. Collect seeds when the sun has dried all the morning dew, which is mid-morning of late, and store them in a zip lock bag. Remember to keep the seeds at a constant temperature above freezing for optimum results.

When the great pyramids were opened, archaeologists discovered caches of seeds among other artifacts. Upon planting some of these seeds, stored for thousands of years, germinated primarily because of the dry and warm temperature conditions within the pyramids where they were stored. There is also an amazing report of lupine (Lupinus articicus) seeds over 10,000 years old sprouting as well. Discovered in the Yukon of Alaska they were found deep within the burrows of ancient lemmings buried in permafrost silt dating to the Pleistocene epoch. The tenacity of Nature’s plan is always inspiring.

However many of our heirloom varieties of seeds have been lost over time, and sometimes purposefully. From ancient times through the Greco/Roman days there existed many plant species that effectively acted as natural birth control. Although always a subject of religious discussion, birth control had been left in the hands of women and their midwives until medieval times when authority over it was suddenly was transferred to the church and male doctors of the day. Within decades of the 1869 Edict of Pope Pius IX outlawing birth control for Catholics, most of the species of these plants had become extinct. In effect, one set of seeds had been replaced by another.

Although it is terribly hot and humid, collecting and storing seeds is a way to preserve this year’s garden…so that it may be carried forth to the next.